[Before the 21012-13 NBA season began, before Sactown Royalty became overrun with covering negotiations, I previewed all 30 NBA teams and how I thought their season would go. But as much fun as it is to preview a season, it's also fun to look back and see what actually happened. And since Kings fans were pretty distracted by off-court events, these will also serve as a reintroduction to what we missed while we watched committee meetings.]
All in all, Toronto has a deep if not flashy roster, and I think they could really surprise people. A lot of that depends on Lowry, and if he can return to form from early last season. The long term importance of Lowry is only second to the long term importance of Jonas. While Lowry should be Toronto's best player, the Raptors need Jonas to live up to the lofty expectations already being placed on him. After years of being mismanaged and drafting poorly, the Raptors finally seem to be coming together. They can't afford to have that derailed by Jonas being a bust.
The biggest story of the year for the Toronto Raptors was the midseason acquisition of Rudy Gay. It was surprising at the time, and is no less surprising in retrospect. Gay, while a big name, has never lived up his massive contract. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo seemed to acquire Gay with no regard for how he fit into the roster, as he's a very similar player to DeMar DeRozan. Gay arrived to much fanfare and a couple scoring outbursts, but wasn't enough to change turn the season around for Toronto.
Kyle Lowry, who I predicted to be a key component of Toronto's success, showed up to camp out of shape and clashed with head coach Dwane Casey. After his clashes with Kevin McHale while with the Houston Rockets, it's beginning to look like the problem might simply be with Lowry. Lowry was actually benched for a spell in favor of Jose Calderon before Calderon was eventually traded to the Detroit Pistons.
I also predicted that Jonas Valanciunas would be key for the Raptors long-term, but I was uncertain how he would fare in his rookie year. He looked better than I expected when he played, but missed a little over a month to injuries. He'll certainly be a nice piece long-term, and should be a key piece of Toronto's future. I say "should" because Toronto showed us that you can never be sure as long as Colangelo remains at the helm. As I write this, Colangelo's future with the team remains in limbo. There's a team option for next season, and it hasn't been made clear yet if the team intends to pick it up.
A few other nice surprises did come around during the season, though. Rookie Terrence Ross looked good in limited minutes, and shows potential to develop into a nice piece for the Raptors. Ed Davis was a nice early season surprise before ultimately being shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the package for Gay. And Amir Johnson had a breakout season. If it wasn't for the Rudy Gay trade, Toronto would actually be really well positioned for next year. But again, because of that perplexing trade, Toronto has two wings that are volume scorers and are taking a huge chunk of their salary cap. I'm personally of the opinion that Toronto should let Colangelo go. But as it stands, Toronto should threaten to make the playoffs next season as an 8 seed, or at least one would hope.